Sunday, 6 January 2013

Mansfield Town 1 v Liverpool 2 - FA Cup 3rd Round

Sunday 6th January 2013
at Field Mill (AKA the One Call Stadium)
FA Cup 3rd Round
Mansfield Town  (0) 1
Matt Green 79
Liverpool   (1) 2
Daniel Sturridge 7, Luis Suarez (a serial cheat) 59
Admission £20, Programme £3, 
Attendance 7,574 (1,443 Liverpool fans)
Mansfield Town:
1 Marriott, 3 Thompson, 4 Dempster, 17 Beevers,
33 Geohaghan, 13 Howell, 14 Clements (16 Rhead - 81 mins), 21 Murray, 7 Meikle, 10 Green, 11 Briscoe (31 Daniel - 64 mins)
Unused Subs - 2 Sutton, 26 Stevenson, 8 Speight, 12 Wright,
25 Hutchinson
1 Jones, 16 Coates, 23 Carragher, 47 Wisdom (38 Flanagan - 79 mins), 49 Robinson, 19 Downing, 21 Lucas,  24 Allen, 
33 Shelvey, 15 Sturridge (7 Suarez - 55 mins), 30 Suso (14 Henderson - 55 mins )
Unused Subs - 42 Gulacsi, 37 Skrtel, 31 Sterling, 35 Coady
Doubtless, the main talking point on planet football this coming week, will be about how mighty Liverpool arrived in Mansfield this afternoon and had to resort to cheating, to narrowly beat a resilient non league club, in an absorbing FA Cup 3rd Round tie. 
Or will it?
Because already, certain so called 'experts', I heard gushing verbal diarrhoea onto the airwaves via the car radio while I was driving home, seemed to be implying that Luis Suarez is somehow the victim today and not the culprit after all. 
Apparently it's all going to pan out and become; a xenophobic witch hunt against a misunderstood Uruguayan football genius, who gets an unfair amount of stick, because of who he is and where he is from.
Historical revisionists have always been prone to rewriting the truth, until it is barely recognisable from fact. But they usually give their subject matter a decent cooling off period before spinning their web of lies. 
Today however, they were rewriting Suarez's part in this afternoons wrong doing, before Mansfield had even had the opportunity to get out of their muddy kit or switch the floodlights off.
So, for purposes of clarification, I will call it as it really happened.
Luis Suarez cheated. 
On purpose.
And he got away with it.
The referee and his assistant apparently missed his handball just before he scored Liverpool's second goal, or clearly thought his offence was either i) accidental, or ii) unintentional. 
It was neither ... he meant it!
And for anybody to say otherwise, or to come out with crap like "It was instinctive, not intentional", well FFS! Are we all supposed to just suck up to Liverpool so much, that we will just shrug off an incident like this and joke about how Mansfield would've done exactly the same thing, if such an opportunity had presented itself at the other end.
This is a Premier League side, littered with millionaire footballers, playing against a team who ply their trade in the Blue Square Bet Premier. 
The gulf in class on the pitch and wealth off of it, is immeasurable.
Liverpool and their supporters shouldn't be glorifying in today's result or making up bullshit excuses and twisting things to suit their severely distorted view of the game. 
They should be thoroughly embarrassed.
But will they be? 
Don't hold your breath.
You see, Liverpool FC are never to blame for any wrongdoing on the field of play. 
It's always somebody else's fault. 
Even when it blatantly isn't
And it's been that way for as long as I can remember.
I've just heard the Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, justifying Suarez's actions. 
Hmm, you've got to say that he'd be a bigger man, if he'd just put his hands up and said "We got lucky today" instead.
But there's no point in dwelling on the injustice of it all, or getting bitter and twisted.about things.
What is done, is done and nothing is going to change that now.
Mansfield are just going to have to take this blow on the chin, dust themselves down and focus on the job in hand they've got to face for the remainder of the season.
The BSBP play offs are still a manageable target, if they can shake off the stop/start form they've been showing since August.
Today was their five minutes of fame, away from all of that and now they musty strive to make sure the remainder of the season doesn't turn into an after the Lord Mayors Show sideshow event.
To be fair to Liverpool today, they should've been home and dry by half time, after a first 45 minutes where they gave the Stags a bit of a mauling and a lesson in passing and movement off the ball.
Short of actually asking the likes of Daniel Sturridge for an autograph, some off the Mansfield players couldn't have been more awestruck by the calibre of several of the opposition line up, as they stood off and gave them far too much respect.
And if Alan Marriott hadn't played an absolute blinder in the first half, then it could easily have been four or five nil to the Reds as they went in at the interval, with just Daniel Sturridge's 7th minute goal to show for their efforts.
As the half time whistle sounded, there may have only been a solitary goal separating the two teams, but the five division gulf in class between them was glaringly obvious.
HT - Mansfield Town 0 v Liverpool 1
However, as the second half got under way, a transformation and remarkable change in tact by the home side, saw them taking the game to Liverpool more and more and it was now Brad Jones who was the busier of the two keepers.
As the home crowd roared the Stags on to greater heights, they also looked on in disbelief, as their ex-Football League side started to put Liverpool under the cosh.
Chris Clements, Matt Green and Anthony Howell (twice) all came close to equalising as Liverpool rode their luck.
The tide had turned and the visitors were up against it now, so much so, that Brendan Rodgers realised that a potential upset was on the cards and he sent on Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson to give his side a helping hand, in a attempt to try regaining the initiative.
A Liverpool fan I know, talked before the game, about his side fielding a weakened team, to reflect the status of today's opposition and the (un)importance of the game.
Hmm, OK, if you say so.
Daniel Surridge, who was withdrawn along with Suso, when the double switch was made, cost more than the entire Mansfield Town team and their ground combined, so please spare me all of that crap.
Matt Green's clever goal bound back heel was cleared off the line by a clear hand ball, that the referee Andre Marriner, missed.
Oh well, the rules of the game do change from time to time ... and in recent years, they have stated that both, i) the attacking team, and more latterly ii) that the defending team, should be given the benefit of the doubt, if the referee is unsighted, or can't make a clear judgement.
There was however, always another unwritten rule, that says: if in doubt, give it Liverpool.
But Jesus!
What was happening out there?
Somebody pinch me.
The Stags, who'd struggled in their last outing at home against Alfreton Town, had just been denied a goal, or at least a penalty, against a Premier League side and with over half an hour still left on the scoreboard, they still had everything left to play for.
Exodus Geohaghan - He's very tall and he can throw the ball a long way.
And then it happened.
I'm not going over it again, there are loads of pictures of it and video clips all over the internet, so lets not dwell on it here.
Missing one handball, when Mansfield should've had a penalty, is one thing, overlooking another, after realising something was amiss and consulting the linesman Mike Mullarkey, who never had a clear view either, was, to be frank, pitiful on the part of Andre Marriner.
What a complete cop out, or, dare I say it ... Kop out!
If Mansfield's heads had collectively dropped now, no Stags fan would've held it against them now.
They had played out of their skins and been robbed by two quite scandalous examples of incompetent refereeing.
However, they refused to buckle and go under and they soon had Brendan Rodgers side reeling under a tide of attacking play again.
Time froze for a moment as Matt Green tapped Lee Beevers knock back, past Brad Jones and into the back of the net, to make it 1-2 on 79 minutes after Colin 'Junior' Daniel had kept the ball in play and got a cross in ... there was a brief stunned pause, followed by complete pandemonium all around me.
A pocket of Liverpool fans who were in the wrong end, took advantage of the moment to make themselves scarce.
"See you at the replay lads!" shouted one of them, as they reached the bottom of the stairs..
A few people were making their afternoon a bit uncomfortable, after the Suarez goal went in, but personally, I've got to say fair play to them (if not their team).
They had used their initiative to get hold of tickets, to make sure they wouldn't miss seeing their team play and is there any real football fan in the world, who wouldn't go in the wrong end to watch a game if they couldn't get a seat in the right stand?
I quite often go in the wrong end of the ground when segregation is in place, its not a big deal.
Besides, these guys were related to a Stags player.
I'm not going to name him, but he's very tall and he can throw the ball a long way.
And two of them were just as big as he is ;-)
It wasn't all one way traffic in the second half and Liverpool had several chances to build on their lead, but late on the Stags still kept throwing everything at Liverpool and took it right to the wire.
I'd given up shouting for infringements by Liverpool players by the time one of them clearly held Matty Rhead when he tried to get up for a cross in the closing stages.
If that's what they were having to resort to, to beat a non league side, it speaks volumes for the way both teams were playing.
After four minutes of added time, the final whistle sounded and Liverpool were through, to face Oldham Athletic in the 4th Round.
FT - Mansfield Town 1 v Liverpool 2
Leaving the ground, although I was gutted that the Stags had been robbed ... and make no mistake about it, they had been ... after running a very good top flight side so close, I also felt comfortably numb and very proud about what I'd just seen in the second half.
And that was without climbing on top of the moral high ground and waving two fingers at the away fans coaches as they left town.
Mansfield Town did themselves proud today. If only they could raise their peckers like that on a weekly basis.
And however Liverpool want to dress it up, they know exactly what really happened.